Swimming In The Cross Currents Of Religion

Western wall It's Christmas Eve, Friday Prayers, and Shabbat all on a single day today in Jerusalem. And I'm here with our family to soak it all in. We spent the day in and around the Old City and it was a special experience.

I'm not much for organized religion. I was raised a Catholic and we have raised our family Jewish. I'm not a believer but I do have an appreciation for the practice of religion. I've witnessed the joy and solace that my mom's faith gives her every day. And I've experienced the pride of watching my three children reading from the torah on their bar and bat mitzvahs. And I've seen the comfort that rabbis and priests have given to greiving families in their moments of pain and suffering. I understand and appreciate the role of religion in the world and am thankful for all the good it does for so many. I also abhor all the bad it does in so many places.

We got a tour of the Old City last night from a wonderful guide who was deeply spritual and he said this about religion, "it is the practice that counts, not how they practice." I buy into that line of thinking and am still trying to figure out how I practice. Writing every day is certainly part of my practice. But not all of it.

Although Jerusalem is certainly the place that comes to mind when one thinks of a religious melting pot, living in New York City has done a lot to introduce me to many forms of religion. The Muslims we met in Egypt and Jordan and their culture and dress and food are familiar to me because of their brethren in NYC. The orthodox Jews that are all over Jerusalem and their culture and dress and food are familiar to me because of their brethren in NYC. And we also get to experience all that Hinduism offers to the world in NYC.

I enjoy swimming in the cross currents of religion. I don't buy into any one orthodoxy. In fact I think ortohodoxy is dangerous. But I have taken particular note of certain aspects of each of the religions I have come into contact with and appreciate them and maybe even practice them from time to time.

So I found today in Jerusalem very moving and enjoyed it very much.

Merry Christmas to everyone who will be celebrating Christmas tonight and tomorrow, including my mom, dad, and brothers and their family.


Comments (Archived):

  1. Dale Allyn

    Fred, I agree with many of your remarks regarding organized religion, both the good and the bad. Perhaps you’re describing “Spirituality”, Fred, rather than religion as a certain common thread of good.Partly due to the nature of our company and brand, and partly due to a preference, our startup seeks team members (including investors and advisors) who possess a certain “spirituality”. Not wanting to get all fuzzy here, but at least for this current project it’s a meaningful component, and we all seem to agree that we don’t care how it is formally labeled in each person. When one listens to what’s important to people it becomes obvious whether there is some sort of spiritually associated with the person’s priorities – whether it’s a desire to help others, have a positive impact on some identified problem, etc.Happy travels, Happy Holidays.

    1. fredwilson

      i agree that spirituality is a better word than religion for what i am talking about

      1. Emil Sotirov

        My word is “re-ligion”… as in re-linking to other people… horizontal, distributed, P2P.

    2. ryan singer

      Thanks Fred! Wishing you and yours a wonderful time together. This al goes to everyone else who reads fred’s blog, this post and specifically if you’re reading this here comment πŸ™‚

  2. Robbywales

    What’s it like to vacation in an apartheid state?

    1. fredwilson

      i’m enjoying it very much

    2. Mark

      So true. Not so many people vacation in Gaza. What a world. You can’t blame Fred though. If you only visited moral countries, there wouldn’t be anywhere to go. Or call home.It is a good thing for everyone in this world to visit each other.

      1. fredwilson

        We are on vacation in the west bank right now

        1. Mark

          Cool. Enjoy and be safe.That was a nice post BTW. I’m an agnostic raised Catholic myself. I don’t understand religion, and I don’t know if I need/desire to. Once I start to form some sort of opinion, I only need to look through my telescope and it dissolves. However the idea that being good to each other, and trying to understand each other is worthwhile, never does. -I do think that’s a truth we all do share, religious or not.

  3. John Minnihan

    Awesome perspective.I’m also not a believer, but when I stood in that exact same spot (at the wall, after-hours during a capital raise in 2000) it was impossible not to be moved by the emotional commitment of those around me.Happy holidays & safe travels, Fred.edit: and I was also raised catholic, so we’ve a shared history & journey there, it would seem – jbminn

  4. Imran Ali

    I caught some of your pictures from Egypt and Israel at your Flickr account earlier this week – from the photos and your post, its sounds like you’re all having a pretty special vacation.Personally, even as a committed and practicing Muslim, I’m finding myself increasingly drawing from all faiths and from my atheist friends too.No one belief structure has a monopoly on morality πŸ™‚

    1. fredwilson

      for sure

  5. Sebastian Wain

    I recommend the book “Mystical Experience” by Ben-Ami Scharfstein who studied “the horizontals” on religions and mysticism and works on Tel Aviv University. A good article about him at: http://www.haaretz.com/cult…Happy Holidays!

  6. ShanaC

    Have humongous amount of fun and Merry Christmas yourself. Jerusalem (and perhaps Sefad) is a deeply spriritual place, and a deeply alive one at the same time. I can understand why there are the occasional people who get Jerusalem syndrome.Ah, so many memories about that wall. I remember standing by it right after the vote on disengagement trying to figure out what I felt. I also remember my very first time there and thinking it was smaller than I imagined (though apparently much of it is buried…). And I remember always getting a bagel with cream cheese, tomatoes and cucumbers from Bonkers right after going.I should find a way back for a trip. Wouldn’t mind trying to figure out how to go camping in the north…

  7. LIAD

    Spent 2 years living in the old city. It’s a magical place. A microcosm of the world. Cant help but feel spiritual whilst in that kind of environment.With all the steps and steep hills. It’s a easy place to keep fit.

    1. ShanaC

      You lived in the Old City? That’s so awesome (if only because I have a vague idea of property prices there) Channukah there is amazing….What were you doing there?

      1. LIAD

        was young, just married, rented a gorgeous cave-like apartment – the things dreams were made of.Don’t think I didn’t have my father on the phone every day yelling “come home already, get a job!”

        1. ShanaC

          Actually, I would think that. I know a couple or two who did basically that (move to Israel for a year, he learns at Yeshiva) for the first year of the marriage so that they can “build up” the relationship. Never quite understood that.You have a smart dad.

          1. LIAD

            we did just that. was sweet…..until it wasn’t

          2. ShanaC

            I’ve changed too much to do that. I understand the sweetness now on an intellectual (and maybe partially cultural) level. But yeah, I can see how not dealing with realities and also marrying young can create unsweetness

          3. LIAD

            realities are what you make them…there are a lot of people there subsisting on a spiritual only diet

  8. Matt Asay

    Religion is what elevates so many of us to be better than we’d otherwise be. Perversion ofreligion accounts for the “bad” to which you allude. I don’t claim to be an expert in religion, but I’ve read heavily from the sacred writings of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hindu, Buddhism, and more, and it’s hard to find any religious instruction there to do the bad things *people who profess to be religious* do.Religion is what redeems us when we’re “all too human.” Which we are, all too often.I’m just glad you can see We’d be better off with more people like you.

  9. Julien

    Merry Xmas to you too.

  10. Matt Asay

    Edit: My last line got munched. Next time I’ll pray before I type. (-:

  11. LIAD

    I was 21, living in the old city of jerusalem and coming to the end of my studies.I didn’t know what to do next, return to london and start work, go travelling, stay on in israel. I was really in a quandary.Was woken one morning by the apartment phone ringing, wasn’t going to answer it but it didn’t stop so I did.It was the head of the talmudic college on the phone “we have an extremely rich philanthropist coming in this morning. We’d like you to be one of a handful of people who will meet with him and show him what we’re about. We’re hoping to secure a large donation”…Dragged myself out of bed, met the philanthropist who happened to be a very successful hi-tech entrepreneur…..one thing led to another……two weeks later I had moved back to London and was working as his PA/chief of staff……..my entrepreneurial tech education and journey had began.—-when the phone rings, and rings and rings – ANSWER IT!

    1. ShanaC

      Definitely a better story that the one about the hesder Yeshiva in the Old City and a girl (no less) getting rashes while sitting on the roof of the dorms, because someone was growing pot on the roof (she was allergic, apparently)+1

      1. LIAD

        its a cool place to be stoned in

        1. ShanaC

          Doubt it πŸ™‚ My year in Israel was considered a bit wild if you talk about Anglos going to learn then en mass (I wasn’t that wild, but Americans behaving badly kept showing up in the media) There were tons of crazy stories being passes around. I think there was even a death that year….so I can’t verify it as true….

        2. ShanaC

          Nah, that would be kikar tzion after havadalah. πŸ˜›

    2. fredwilson

      awesome storythanks for sharing

    3. JLM

      Great story. Right place, right time. Kismet.

  12. Ro Gupta

    I’m off to India tomorrow – another cross-current of religions, customs, cuisines, languages, smells..you name it. If you guys ever reschedule that trip I think you’ll get a similar vibe. Merry Christmas

    1. ShanaC

      Have fun!

    2. fredwilson

      we are going there soon. it’s just a question of whether we do it year end with the kids or solo

      1. RM

        What brings you to India, Fred? Work / pleasure?

  13. William Mougayar

    A nice open hearted blog post. Indeed, religion is a personal thing.Merry Christmas everybody.

  14. Wildtoucans

    Israel is an amazing countryBeautiful, organic, and progressive.This country has developed so much in the past 30 years, that I only wonder what the next 30 years will bring.

  15. Steven Kane

    Thank you Fred!:D

  16. garylerude

    Fred, thank you for sharing your perspective. The world needs voices such as yours, from those who see, respect, and celebrate the richness of religious and spiritual diversity. That perspective led me to Unitarian Universalism, where I am free to build my own theology, testing and blending science, philosophy, religion – even atheism. Blessings.

    1. fredwilson

      i may be following you

    2. Dave Pinsen

      Merry Christmas.

  17. awaldstein

    Fred, thanks for sharing this and the great pics of your trip so far.Israel, like, but even moreso than New York, oozes the intersection of cultures. Not always easily but richly for certain.You are lucky to be experiencing it this time of year.I wish you and all AVCers a great holiday. It’s been a good year. I’m a believer that next year will carry on that tradition.

  18. aanwar

    Love the experience you had back there. It is indeed one of those spiritual places around the planet. I love the place i live in NJ, have 2 mosques, 3 temples, 1 synagogue, and 2 churches in the near vicinity. Feels good when one is part of so many cultures.And Merry Christmas to you and your family.

  19. Matt A. Myers

    Thank you for sharing that.For me, yoga and meditation is my religion; a tool to connect to self, spiritually, the universe and everything in it in as pure of a form as I can with understanding and without judgement.It’s what I practice daily. Whether I go to a studio space for an hour or more, whether it’s a yin or yang-oriented or a balanced practice, or just at home for 5 minutes to do some sun salutations. Even when I am walking downtown Toronto observing thousands of people and breathing and wishing well on others.May all beings everywhere be happy and free.Happy Holidays to everyone!

    1. fredwilson

      it is certainly part of my practicemy saturday afternoon ritual, which includes my favorite yoga class, is as close as i have to shabbat

  20. Tereza

    Nice post, Fred. Merry Christmas to whoever celebrates and happy everything to each one else.I was raised nominally Catholic, a Christmas and Easter kinda family. Czechs and Hungarians are not particularly religious people. But we always did an awesome traditional Austro-Hungarian Christmas. This included a dozen kind of fancy cookies, recipes from my grandmother’s family.Her name was Karacsonyi Rozsi, which translates to Christmas Rose. She was a very elegant Hungarian woman, a concert pianist who was born in 1912. She was very progressive. She and my grandpa eloped in 1937 by motorcycle. Always at the cutting edge.This summer I had a Madeleine Albright moment. I found out Rose Christmas was actually Jewish. In fact I don’t think my mom ever knew. How ’bout them apples?

    1. fredwilson

      eloping by motorcycle is excellent!

      1. Tereza

        He was an entrepreneur and supposedly spent all his money on changing her identity. Crazy stuff.

    2. JLM

      I was born to one of seven Irish Catholic sisters who used to debate with their myriad Irish Catholic male cousins whether sex or whiskey was God’s dividend for being raised a Catholic.This was a serious debate in which the ante or price of entry was usually three whiskeys — not a difficult hurdle to clear. But one which made you more articulate and deep thinking in the bargain.As they slowly passed this earth and the debates ceased, the tally stood at about 23-21 with whiskey leading in the stretch.Sex after whiskey made a respectable showing. Betting on horses and winning made an appearance but then quickly devolved to just foreplay to either sex or whiskey or both after all.Nobody is ever raised “nominally” a Catholic because you always carry the entire wealth of guilt unless, of course, you are blessed to be Irish in the bargain in which case they are only guidelines after all providing one becomes quite adept at that glorious invention — confession.Confession is the “get out of jail” card which makes Catholicism — particularly for the Irish — so appealing.

      1. Tereza

        Since I’m Catholic baptized, confirmed, married, joined a Congregational church, and mom’s mom, turns out, was Jewish….I’m technically all three at the same time.So many ways to feel guilty!When my (Lutheran) husband and I were going off to pre-Cana, my (Jesuit-educated) father asked, “You’re going to be sitting there ALL DAY?” with his eyes wide open. Then he turned to my husband (with his a thick Hungarian accent) and said, “Richie, bring a book.” We still laugh about that one.The glimmer in Catholicism that always appealed to me is the sense of helping the poorest of the poor.Hungarians and Czechs drink slightly less than Irish but we do it accompanied by (only slightly) better food and (considerably) louder music. In each of these cultures I think they recite poetry when drunk.I do like Judaism’s emphasis on education and fairness.I like my Protestant church’s general cheerfulness. Incredible music program. Lots of recovering Catholics there. Less alcohol, and definitely not as good food.When I had my Madeleine Albright moment a friend emailed me titled, Things you need to know now that you’re Jewish. It said, “Congratulations! You’re now lactose intolerant. You’re also smarter than you were two weeks ago.” ROTFL.Life is interesting.

        1. ShanaC

          Religion and society is interesting…(and a merry christmas to you, beware of snow)

        2. JLM

          Yes, one could generalize that drink leading to poetry is the lot of civilized countries while drink leading to violence is the lot of uncivilized countries.

          1. Tereza

            Merry Christmas, JLM! Hope you’ve been having a great one!

          2. JLM

            Superb and the same to you and yours!

  21. hypermark

    Fred, if you haven’t read it, I would strongly recommend Narcissus and Goldmund by Herman Hesse. It is a great, wondrous, but simple story of a how a man of the cloth realizes that to understand the meaning of life, he needs to embrace the flesh, thereby shedding the spiritual materialism that defined — and limited — him before.If you think about that, unless you are in to rigid orthodoxies, it is this duality that is at the center of manifesting and becoming, and thus, leading a purpose-filled life.Without an understanding of the NOT, how can you understand the IS, and vice-versa?

    1. fredwilson

      thanks mark, i’ll see if i can get it on my kindle app

    2. Kelley Boyd @msksboyd

      Interestingly, that is one of my sons favorite books. I know this because it is listed on his facebook page (though I am not sure if it is before or after Confederacy of Dunces. ;>)He read it in high school. Because he so enjoyed it, he recommended I read it when he finished, thus I read it as well. Strong story. How lovely to see you recommending it here.

    3. JLM

      For much the same reason that St Augustine is my favorite Saint.He picked his own elixir of life but only after sampling all the others.I received an honorable mention level caning from Sister Anne de Beaupre for mentioning this fact to the Bishop once upon a time.The Bishop not being impressed with my logic which I defend to this day.Why not come to the aid of a sinner having spent a bit of time in his sandals?

      1. hypermark

        Preaching to the choir (so to speak). Yin needs Yang. As to canings, no good deed goes unpunished. πŸ˜‰

        1. JLM

          I am way below the curve on “canings deserved” v “canings received”.I am a product of corporal punishment and my only regret is that I probably did not get nearly as much as I deserved.BTW, just to clear the record, I count yard stick punishment as administered by the Sisters of Charity (haha) as in the “canings” column though the yard stick is not as deadly a weapon as a good cane or switch.I give double credit if you are forced to pick out your own switch which was also the practice of some nuns by whom I was educated.Odd sentiment.

          1. hypermark

            Karma suggests that there is a ledger somewhere out there where those “canings deserved” are yet to be realized. In fact, I think Amazon is adding that as a new service option to Mechanical Turk. Just kidding.As to nuns and pick your punishment, the sounds decidedly out of CineMax (aka Skin-e-Max), but at least we know what incentive systems work best for you. πŸ™‚

  22. Jacob Thomason

    Well said, happy holidays πŸ˜‰

  23. FlavioGomes

    That was such a nice post Fred. Merry Christmas.

  24. iamronen

    This reminded me of some words from John Coltrane:β€œI am [Christian] by birth, or my mother was and father was, and so forth. My early teachings were in the Christian faith. And now, as I look out upon the world, and it’s always been a thing with me to feel that all men know the truth, see? So therefore I have always felt that even though a man was not a Christian, he could know the truth in some way. Or if he was a Christian, he could know the truth, or he could not … The truth itself doesn’t have any name on it. To me. Each man has to find this for himself, I think.I believe that men are here to grow themselves into the best good that they can be. This is what I want to do, this is my belief: that I’m supposed to grow to the best good that I can get to. As I’m going there, becoming this, and if I ever become this, it will just come out of the horn. So whatever I will be, it will be. I’m not interested in trying to say what it will be, I don’t know. But I believe that good will only bring good.”

  25. Donna Brewington White

    It always feels like receiving a gift when someone shares these kinds of thoughts so transparently. Thank you for this and for acknowledging those of us who celebrate Christmas.I want to add my own heartfelt “Merry Christmas!” to those for whom it is applicable.We’ve been lighting Advent candles in our home to help remind us of the spiritual aspects of this holiday — at least we’re trying. The four candles represent Hope, Peace, Joy and Love. And this I wish for everyone in this diverse community.

  26. Pete

    “Happy Holiday” means well – but says nothing frankly. Some of us are slowly getting fed up with this inane greeting.It is Christmas, and it should be called that. Nothing more, nothing less.Likewise when it’s other festivals, Jewish, Hindu, Chinese or whatever – we generously give recognition to that celebration – so why not Christmas?And for those large corps who are too scared to call it for what it is, they can add an asterisk (*) or qualifier to the greeting.”If the recipient doesn’t celebrate Christmas, or is offended beyond reproach with this good-natured greeting, we sincerely apologize and wish you a “Happy Holiday” instead.”

  27. Namek

    Good to hear you are enjoying yourself in Jerusalem, the birth place of the major religions…Fred if you decide venture next door to Jordan and need a local opinion, please let me know I am in Amman for the holidays with family…talk about the start-up scene, it is starting to grow nicely here and alongside it so is the early stage venture market and government regulations..Israel as you know has these markets already developed but what we are experiencing here in the Arab MENA is akin to the early stages of the formation of silicon valley…a couple of gents from Pitango and Lightspeed shared this opinion also when I met with them in November. my email: [email protected]. Enjoy.

    1. fredwilson

      we were in amman earlier this week for a dayit’s a very nice citywe enjoyed it very much

  28. Kelley Boyd @msksboyd

    Thank you for these gifts. To share in yours and Gotham Gals unique experiences at so many inflection points is really a gift I am am grateful that we, as a community, are able to benefit from these experiences and insights. What a wonderful life you share.As for religion, god lives in me. Every act of kindness and grace that I am able to give to people I encounter, I will, to the very best that I can, to honor my creator.To repeat the spiritual words of John Coltrane mentioned in the comment thread, this is the part (with tiny edits) that reflects who I am, and how I show up.I believe that “people” (men) are here to grow themselves into the best good that they can be. This is what I want to do, this is my belief: that I’m supposed to grow to the best good that I can get to. As I’m going there, becoming this, and if I ever become this, it will just come out…(of the horn). So whatever I will be, it will be. I’m not interested in trying to say what it will be, I don’t know. But I believe that good will only bring good.”Oh, and To all the People of the List:Heaux, Heaux, Heaux! β˜…Happy Holidays!!!β˜… Β° 。 Β° ˚* _Ξ _____*。*Λšβ˜… 。* 。*。 β€’ ˚ ˚ β€’γ€‚β˜…Λš Λ› β€’Λ›β€’*/______/~οΌΌγ€‚Λš ˚ Λ›β˜… 。* 。*β˜… 。* 。*˚ Λ› β€’Λ›β€’ ο½œη”°η”°ο½œι–€ο½œ *。*Λšβ˜… 。* 。*。 β€’ ˚ ˚ β€’γ€‚β˜…May 2011 be your best year ever as a fabulous new decade begins!

  29. JLM

    Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!Religion is indeed personal but the God that all religions worship is the same omnipotent power of good which transcends all and provides the light of our lives and the world’s bulwark against evil. And believe me evil is real and loose in the world.Whether that worship is on a prayer rug, or in the third pew on the right in the Episcopal Church or on a mountain top — well, you see where this is going — it is important to acknowledge our own insignificance in the world in which we have become privileged to live.The failure to embrace a particular religion — and boy have I got a story to tell you about my own personal journey of discovery — is in many ways a failure to screw up the courage to commit. To commit to a particular religion symbolically at least but also in using that institution to organize, channel, focus and magnify your own good works.At the end of the day, a religious congregation only exists to educate and to perform good works externally and internally. But it is also a force multiplier.A religion and whether one joins a particular one is like the comparison between a library (wherein all knowledge exists) and a college which is a delivery system for knowledge in an orderly manner.There are however no pep rallies for libraries.Last thing, show me where your money goes and I will tell you what you REALLY believe in. That is why the concept of tithing is so significant. You can say you are a Catholic, or a Jew or a Muslim — but your checkbook will really tell you what you are — and, baby, neither Neiman Marcus nor the country club are religions. [Just for the record, I am pretty much a glass house rock thrower on this score.]Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of Fredland and to all you beautiful, brainy and clever people. You ARE the world. Make it so. Be kind to yourselves.

    1. Matt A. Myers

      Glad I came back to this thread and saw this. Merry Christmas. πŸ™‚

    2. Dave W Baldwin

      Being one of those pushing toward AGI, I have had to keep in mind the coming religious debate. I’ve noticed that hard core aetheists seem more fearful of the Lord than the humble believer and the hard core religious (usually political) try to throw the Tower of Babel card…essentially trying to dumb down the Lord.Good post JLM.

  30. Sean Logan

    Religious relativism like this (“it is the practice that counts, not how they practice”) is diplomatic and the kind of rhetoric we need to achieve peace. But it’s not an intellectually honest standpoint, in my view.It’s hard, very hard, to imagine how Jerusalem wouldn’t be a better place if there was no religion there.PSI myself love to learn about religions and sort of sample them whenever I get the chance. As a non-believer, though, I would never want my children to believe in something I know to be false. No matter how happy it makes them.

    1. JLM

      On Christmas Eve, I was with my family (one beautiful wife and two 20-something know it alls) at a wonderful service replete with the telling of the Christmas story with a multi-media presentation that was the equal of a rock concert. The music was truly rock concert quality.Afterward, my son said: “That was the best service I have ever been to in a church. Heck, I would take a date!”My daughter chimed in: “I would love it if a boy took me to a church service like that.”Afterward, we had a family dinner at a cool little restaurant that had a swing band playing and had a feast.We spoke for a fairly long time about what would have happened if the Christmas story had happened on earth in 2010. The conversation was hilarious. [The consensus was that Fox News would have broken the story.]I want my children to believe in the goodness of life, the optimism of people and the wonder of miracles.There is a richness to life when we know and embrace that we are part of God’s plan. Still take a pretty damn hard look at IRRs, mind you, but part of a plan bigger than ourselves.

      1. fredwilson

        you are an inspiration JLM

      2. Donna Brewington White

        JLM — Thanks for sharing this. BTW, your kids would have loved the service we attended — featured “Little Drummer Boy” with a full-on drum circle — rocked the house! Proud of my husband’s vision that organized all the music and multimedia. We took an elderly neighbor who said at the end “Best damn thing I’ve ever seen.” That made my night.

  31. Anentrepreneuro2341

    It pathetic to see you pander to organized religion (myth perpetuated to subjugate and divide people through history). If you don’t have the intellectual courage to stand up for your “lack of” beliefs, you probably don’t have the courage to take the hard choices on the boards you serve.You are a good time friend. I would be wary of taking investment from you. All you new breed of VC’s are the same.

    1. fredwilson

      fuck you too

      1. Brownboxxmusic

        Fred some people will never get it, history has proven that over and over. I say you focus the energy on those of us who do. Many people have never met an individual. I recently had a really dumb fight with someone I consider a good friend because he found out that I don’t vote, I was trying to explain to him something similar, I see the need for politics and politicians, we need leaders, that’s obvious but I just haven’t found a politician that moved me enough to want to join the process. I’m with you on that, and well said I was going to reply to this guy but I see your a big boy fine job.

        1. fredwilson

          focus on the energy of those who do – well said. thanks

    2. JLM

      Hmmmm, I’m going out on a limber here — but maybe you may have escaped charm school a semester early, my friend.Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

    3. Geekette

      And you sound like a fucking bitter atheist. Scratch that; atheism doesn’t equate to lack of imagination or discerning between actual belief, practice/routine & areas in between. You actually sound like a bitter nobody hiding behind black-or-white, the type that lacks the courage to admit having grey edges in thinking.

      1. Geekette

        meant *a lack of discerning

      2. danmang

        leave the kettle alone, mr. pot!

  32. Pano Anthos

    As Bob Dylan once sang “You gotta serve somebody”.

  33. Parsha To Go

    Very interesting post to read and I think you would find the iPhone app, Parsha To Go, to be the most interesting and useful applications for Jewish people. (developed by myself and other team members)Parsha To Go is a revolutionary and educational application that supplies Jewish readers with insightful information into the weekly Parsha, or Torah Portion. Our team at Parsha To Go study and learn the Torah Portion every week and we supply the insightful content to our readers.The Torah is the most important book in the world, ever created. Its Content is the deepest philosophical and educational information available.We completed all five books of the Torah , and we are currently upgrading our application to include every single Torah Portion. Now, the reader can access any weekly Portion, any time he/she wants. Spreading the knowledge of the Torah is truly a magnificent act because the content is so meaningful and profound. The Torah provides an incredible moral basis for every day life. It is A GuideBook for Life.I think you should definitely check out Parsha To Go!Let me know what you think.Conrad Schulman

  34. Fairness

    why “muslim” but “Jewish” or “Catholic” – capitalization..

    1. fredwilson

      No reason. I didn’t focus on it.

      1. Fairness

        “No reason. I didn’t focus on it. But I will correct it” would be a better answer for me but anyway.. no need to expand. I think this is not a malicious act but I just wanted to mention..

        1. fredwilson

          i corrected it

          1. Fairness

            Thanks for your kind attitude and for being sensitive & positive

  35. Custom Fan Page

    don’t understand this differences???

  36. Mark Essel

    I’m trying to imagine the discussions with GG about how to raise your kids of a specific faith. I don’t think I could tell my kids (none yet so we’ll see) to practice something I don’t believe in. How old were your kids when they knew you weren’t a believer? Kids are crafty and incredibly empathetic, they probably knew before you knew they knew.Not many have your tactful way of discussing religion, I might have gone a little over the top by mocking creation myths (all of them) in my recent riff on belief. Faith is all good, mine is based in humanity.

  37. Padre

    Good morning….question….what do King Henry VIII, Martin Luther, John Wesley, John Smith and Jesus Christ have in common?They are founded their own church…King Henry…Church of England, Martin Luther…Lutheran, John Wesley…Methodist, John Smith…Mormon andJesus Christ the Catholic Church…”upon this rock (Peter) I will build My church”…Something to think about don’t you agree?

  38. Michael Ortner

    You may enjoy reading Orthodoxy by GK Chesterton.

  39. Kun

    you start by saying “I was raised a Catholic and we have raised our family Jewish” and the next sentence reads “I’m not a believer “. Which begs the question : why are you a practicing jew then, who do you have in mind when you pray if you are a non-believer?

    1. fredwilson

      I’m not a practicing jew

  40. klem

    Hi Fred I’ve been following your blogs for just a few weeks now, and I feel compelled to tell you that you are incredibly insightful. I’m a musician turned entrepreneur and I’ve just been reading everything I can on everything I might need to know. I came across you guys while searching for VCs in NY. I’ve learned so much from your blogs, a lot of stuff was already familiar but your take on things offered new clarity I never had. This post just puts the icing on the cake. I too was raised catholic but not currently a believer. I do have a genuine appreciation for religion even though I can’t be a follower I see it’s purpose and have benefited from it. I have two infant boys that and I’ve been trying to find a way to introduce them to religion without being religious, I think I just found a way. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge brother, you guys help a lot of real people I hope you know thatKlem

    1. fredwilson

      you are doing the right thing for your boys

    2. padre

      Klem/Fred….both of you indicate you were raised Catholic, but currently don’t believe…just for the record you are still Catholic in God’s eyes because of your Baptism….With Bartimaeus the blind man I will say the prayer for both of you Domine ut videam….this is…. Lord that I may see….I pray that …..Lord that you may see…..please pray for me also….Happy New Year…..

  41. JJC

    It is upsetting that so many people have a negative view of organized religion and seek to justify their own humanist brand of “spirituality.” Should each of us start our own religions? Should each of us create our own rules for morality? This is moral relativism; it is the same phenomenon that keeps us from discerning good from evil; it is the political correctness that keeps us from admitting, for example, that children do better in families than when born to single mothers. “Tolerance” is not a virtue; even the most character-deficient people would wish for it. It is frightening to imagine a world with no generally accepted understanding of morality or right vs. wrong. Can anyone deny that there is a cause and effect relationship between the decline of religion and the degradation of our culture? Now some will say, “I think there is that general understanding…” To which I would reply: If so, then that in and of itself provides evidence for the existence of God, for from what other source would that understanding come?It is undeniable that the United States was founded upon Judeo-Christian principles. There was a practical benefit to this: a civil society that allows for individual freedom cannot function properly without a common moral compass. It is ironic that unbelievers reap the benefits of an overall sense of fairness and right vs. wrong that comes from the very religions they frown upon.Those who believe there is no God of course do not want to be constrained by any rules purportedly associated with God. But they’d better hope they are right. If a believer turns out to be wrong, however, there is no downside.

  42. fredwilson

    we missed it unfortunatelywill have to check it out next time